Following the correct approach to business etiquette is an integral part of any business dealing and getting it wrong is not just embarrassing, it can potentially turn even the best deal sour.
While it’s pretty easy to keep to the expected standards in your own country, it can become tricky in a country that you aren’t familiar with.
From the way you dress, what time you turn up and the appropriate greetings to gift giving, meals and conversation – these are the most important aspects of business etiquette in the Spanish real estate industry based on this article from Passport to Trade.
Spain is famous for its relaxed lifestyle, siestas and what could be called ‘less than punctual’ timing. The country simply doesn’t work in the same way that other western countries do, however, that doesn’t mean you should be late for any business meetings or appointments.
Chances are that the Spanish contingent that you meet up with may be slightly delayed, which isn’t seen as a big deal in Spain, but you don’t want to arrive late yourself to find that they have arrived earlier – this will not go down well. The best advice would be to arrive on time, order a drink and wait for your partners to arrive.
Greetings are always tricky to navigate if you are unaware of the cultural expectations that surround the situation. Do you kiss on both cheeks? Handshake? Hug? Well, in Spain you are most likely going to be expected to give out a good, firm handshake – especially if you are of the same sex and especially the first time you meet.
If you have more than one meeting things might progress, but always let the other person initiate the ‘first kiss’ – a kiss is expected on both cheeks but in the air and not directly onto the cheek. When it comes to names and other formalities – it is best to use señor and señorita, followed by their surname if you know what it is.
Business meals and conversation
The Spanish are famous for their elaborate meals, which often go on for hours at a time, and while business lunches may be popular at home, they aren’t really a done thing in Spanish business etiquette. Meals are a time to socialise and catch up with friends and family, to eat until you literally can’t anymore and, more often than not, includes a whole lot of wine. Therefore, it is advisable to have a business meeting before going out for a meal. Keep in mind that the person who initiates the meal will usually have to pick up the bill, and if you have been invited for dinner, you should reciprocate the invite some time in the next couple of weeks.
Spaniards are a friendly group of people and chances are that they will want to chat to you before getting into formal business conversation. Don’t launch straight into the real estate industry, but rather ask about their families and hobbies before broaching the subject of business.
Business etiquette dress code
Dress code is very important in Spain, and you will definitely be judged on the way you present yourself. Make sure that you dress professionally and in a way that shows that you are serious about the matters at hand.
Men are expected to wear a well cut suit, usually of a darker colour, with a tie and a crisp white shirt. However, Spain is a very hot country, so often it is acceptable to have your jacket thrown over your shoulder and a slightly loosened tie.
Women should wear a pantsuit or modest dress that is dark in colour and made from high-quality material. They should appear incredibly business-like and are not to flaunt their sexuality.
In Spain gifts are not really part of the business etiquette and gifts are not expected at a business meeting, but they can be given at the end of a successful deal to say thank you and give well wishes.
Gifts shouldn’t be too pricey in case they are seen as a bribe, and the best bet is to take your partners out for dinner or drinks. However, if you do want to give an actual gift then a book about your home country or a bottle of (non-Spanish) wine will always be appreciated.
If you are invited into a Spanish household, even for business, you should think to take a bunch of appropriate flowers, a box of chocolates or a good bottle of wine for your hosts and their family to enjoy.
The business etiquette in Spain is unique to the country, but it is certainly not difficult to get a grip on – stick to the points above and you shouldn’t have any problems at all. Conducting business in Spain needn’t be tricky and if you are looking to buy property, contact us to have a look at our gorgeous Calpe villas.